Naima's Published Titles

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Working with a Professional Editor

If you're undecided about hiring a professional editor before you self-publish, I strongly advise you to do so. My editor is Linda Wasserman of Pelican Press in Pensacola, Florida, USA. She strengthened my story so much. For instance, I never realized how many times I used passive voice, which resulted in weaker sentences. 

She sent me two Word document versions of my edited novel. One has all her edits accepted and Track Changes turned off (so I could read her version without distractions). The other has no edits accepted and Track changes on (so I could see each edit and read her comments on the purpose of the edit). I am going through the second version and accepting or rejecting each edit myself. For the most part, I agree with her. Every now and then, I reject an edit. Below are five examples in the form of "Before and After " edit comparisons:

Example 1: 

My original version:

Julian knew the candlelight was making his features ghoulish. It was darkening the hollows of his face, concealing his eyes and throwing his shadow up to the ceiling.

Linda's version:

Julian knew the candlelight made his features ghoulish. It darkened the hollows of his face, concealed his eyes and threw his shadow up to the ceiling.

Example 2:

My version:

“This annual gala I throw every year, Holiday Lights."

Linda caught the redundancy. Her version:

“This annual gala, Holiday Lights.”

Example 3:

My version:

“Yes,” Julian said a little awkwardly, “I am sorry."

Linda's version:

“Yes,” Julian said, disliking himself for feeling awkward. “I am sorry.”

Linda's embedded comment explained her edit as a suggestion: "I just threw the “disliking” in because it seemed to fit.  What do you think?"

I disagreed with her edit on the grounds of Julian's personality. Julian doesn't dislike himself for feeling awkward. He likes himself all the way down to his rotten core. His apparent awkwardness is an affectation. However, considering the rest of the narrative as context, it no longer seemed necessary to explain that or even keep the word awkward, so I deleted it entirely to make this sentence:

“Yes,” Julian said, “I am sorry.”

Example 4:

My version:

Flat, golden ringlets parted at the center of her high waxy forehead, clinging to her tiny skull and spilling to her waist.

Linda's version:

Flat, golden ringlets parted at the center of her high, waxy forehead. Clinging to her tiny skull, the curls spilled to her waist.

I rejected her edit because I like the flow of the original sentence and because when you take in someone's appearance, your vision flows from her head down, in one sweep.

Example 5:

My version:

Julian's nerves tightened until his long, white fingers became talons impaling the tapestry arms of his chair.

Linda's version:

Julian's nerves tightened until his long, white fingers transformed into talons that impaled the tapestry arms of his chair. 

Linda's comment explained her suggested change:  "I just wanted to offer this as an option."

I had written that his "fingers became talons" as a metaphor, but I liked Linda's suggestion –especially in light of the fact that a few paragraphs down, Julian does transform physically into something monstrous. I accepted her edit.

To sum up, I recommend spending the money and time on collaborating with a professional editor before self-publishing your work. Each individual edit may not seem like a big deal, but together they add up. The result is a stronger story that is still true to your vision.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is it too Late to Clone Myself?

I'm obsessed with publishing and publicizing. If I could just take one day to insert end matter into my Demontorium short stories, I could devote all my energy to accepting Linda's line item copy edits to my novel, Bloodroom. And I could create my Facebook page and do all the things Shelley Hitz taught us in her webinars. The strategy she teaches is very thorough and implementing seems as full time an enterprise as my other tasks. It's not just the time, but the mental focus. I haven't written anything in my new novel, House of the Apparently Dead, for about two weeks now -- which I tell you, there's an eager little racehorse in me wanting to bust out the gate and write the next scene. I tell myself, this big publishing push is a temporary switch in focus. There's a lot to do at first because I'm establishing a platform. The stories I have already written deserve the best support I can give.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Naima, Inc Chugging Right Along

You might call it a Little Shop of Horrors...yuk, yuk, yuk! I have published four short stories from my upcoming anthology Night at the Demontorium to Kindle and Smashwords. More on that in the near future.

Bloodroom came back from the editor and I'm literally going edit by edit, choosing whether to accept or reject. Sometimes an edit is grammatically correct but it messes up the rhythm of the sentence. That's why I don't just hit "Accept All" or whatever Word calls it.

I just bought David Gaughran's book Let's Get Digital. The book is a collection of advice, articles, and essays on self-publishing e-books. It features many indie authors who've found success, and for that reason alone, I'm excited to read it. I like David's writing style and enjoy reading his blog. My immediate intent is to read LGD sparingly, because I've been suffering a little from information overload, what with all the experts I've been tapping into recently. However, that's like telling myself to nurse one glass of wine at a party. Oops, did I just tell on myself?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Helping Your eBooks Sell Your Other eBooks

My subscription to Steve Lewis' Taleist tutorials paid off again today when I learned how to make the last pages of an e-story direct readers to review, share, or tweat about the story (as well as buy another story).

I had just finished an e-book and gotten to the last page, a Before You Go page where I could rate the book on Twitter. I thought, how can I have that on my e-books?

The tutorial said 'Before You Go' is a feature for the latest Kindle that Amazon sets up for e-books automatically. Thanks, Amazon! Then the tutorial had example text I could incorporate into my story's html that might influence a reader to review my story on Amazon and possibly buy another. Directed thus, I created an About the Author feature with my photo, asked them to review, included a link to the story's Amazon page, and told them how very much I'd appreciate it. I also gave them a heads-up to the Before You Go page they were about to encounter.

I did all this in my short story, Sparky's First Day, before publishing to Kindle. As soon as Sparky goes live, I'll add the end matter to my already live e-stories and I'll add an 'If you liked, you'll also like ...' feature with links to the other stories. I'm trying to keep it all short n' sweet but still getting the most info to them I can.

What are some other techniques I can try? Suggestions?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Romance and Twitter Contests

In Juicy Writing last night, Sharon read from a list of phrases in a romance writing phrase book and challenged us to take one or more of these phrases and write a short story on the spot. I wrote a 3-page story using two of the phrases. I love my story! It's not a horror story in any way. It's a romance, untinged by anything dark. I like the rare occasions when I write something completely un-dark because it reminds me that I can write "normal" stuff. I want to put it up on StoryFans at the same time I publish Bloodroom, which is a vampire romance. The StoryFans release will hopefully drive readers to the book.

Yesterday, Steven Lewis' Kindle Self-Publishing blog featured Tony Eldridge, a writer and e-book marketing consultant. Tony's new book teaches techniques for creating successful Twitter contests. The blog story includes a link to a free sampling of Twitter contest ideas. I would love to create Twitter contests as a way of widening my readership. There are so many options for book promotion and I feel somewhat like Columbus upon "discovering" the New World. It's all very exciting. Do you have a successful marketing strategy you'd like to share with me?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quick Blog Before Dashing to Work

My favorite part in the movie Constantin is when Keanu Reeves' character, John Constantin, asks the Devil something like, "so how are things going?" And Satan shrugs, rolls his eyes, and says, "Oh ...busy, busy, busy!" Ha ha. Yeah, Satan. I know just what you mean.

So among the million things I'm doing, I attended Shelley Hitz's weekly webinar on Facebook marketing. I've learned so many useful things. She offers a free self-publishing checklist at And you can see her video on the subject here:

Now, I gotta motor. You know ... "busy, busy, busy!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Short Stories Pending

My short story, The Entrepreneur, is pending approval by Amazon and Smashwords. Thanks to my friend Jimmy for excellent advice in the editing phase (check out Jimmy's site Horror Web, where you'll find reviews and news of movies, books, and people influential to the genre). Tamara Fincher, creator of The Skaggs, designed the cover art. 

Also pending approval is He Dreams in Yellow -- thanks, Dan and Kim for your feedback! Aunt Téa's Addiction is for sale on Amazon, but is hung up in Smashwords with the rest. The issue is a lack of free ISBNs. Without them, my stories can't be in the premium catalog for distribution to Apple, Borders, and Sony. (I think that also means no access to Nook.) Smashwords says they expect to have ISBNs available in a few days.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No Such Thing as Small Writing

I finished writing the Greeley girls scene Tuesday night and like it very much.

Last night, I attended Shelley Hitz's webinar on creating and using Facebook fan pages. She showed us how to use the Notes and Discussions features to engage readers. She talked about the importance of having a tagline for yourself on your fan page and told us the tagline should be comprised of keywords so you come up in Internet searches. Our homework is to write our taglines. I intend to come up with several; I'll ask you guys which one you like best.

I also got Aunt Téa's Addiction accepted for publication at Smashwords, by which I mean that it was vetted and found not to be in violation of their style guide. BUT -- they're out of free ISBNs and without an ISBN, the story won't be available on Nooks, iPads, and Sony devices. A new batch of free ISBNs are expected to be available today. I'm afraid there will be a run on those suckers and I'll miss out. I'm going to be checking Smashwords' Update page obsessively today.

Last night I wrote the description blurb for my next published story, He Dreams in Yellow. But I'm concerned it contains a spoiler. The story is more stylish than shocking (as my other stories tend to be). Malcom walks around a lot and is visited by friends. Not very shocking, eh? How do you make a blurb out of that? But the shocking horror part comes later and I have to be careful or my blurb will give it away. I'm awful at small writing like bios, blurbs, taglines, and story titles. It's like by the time I get to that, my head is too worn out to think. John Urbancik gave me the title to He Dreams in Yellow. I couldn't think of a title. When he did, I was like, "Love it. Done."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sisters, George C. Scott, and Apparent Death

I wrote the Greeley girls scene last night. I like it. It's not finished but it's a good start. I spent about 90 minutes on it, between working late at the office and watching George C. Scott grimace and squint his way through Jane Eyre. I left the Greeleys debating whether they should have told Charlotte that Charleston is overrun with Apparent Death.

Friday, July 1, 2011

FB Webinars and Abolitionists

I took Shelley Hitz's free webinar on building a Facebook author page Wednesday night. It was like trying to take a drink from a fire hose full blast, so I'm glad she made the recording and an attendant PDF available. I will need those when I design my page. She advised on connecting your FB fan page to other social networking sites and apps, such as and She showed how to engage FB friends through use of FB's interactivity features. She's offering a 4-webinar subscription throughout July. I plunked down the cash,  because one thing the price includes is updated info as FB changes, so I figure it will remain a fresh resource for me. The link to her Self Publishing Coach blog is in the right column of this page.

Finished the webinar and thought to do a little writing so I'd have something to read to Sharon in Juicy Writing Thursday. I want to write a little scene between Charlotte and the Greeley sisters  that will show how close they are from body language and a few snippets of conversation. The ostensible purpose of the scene is to set up the Greeleys being at Eugenie's bedside when Malinde makes her final visit. But as abolitionists, the Greeleys are the moral conscience of the story, so even though their facetime is minimal, their impression of what's happening is important. And their presence in the story has big implications for Risa, my heroine's best friend and a fellow slave. The way I write, I have to know the setting -- what the room looks like. And then what the characters look like, their physical features and their clothing. Even though the truly important thing is their interaction (and I could write that first; it would be more productive) my inner comfort zone is that I need to walk past the scene and understand it a glance. Literally (mentally) I need to be an uninvolved spectator who just happens by and sees the people. What would I get from a glance? The tension in the room? Or the ease? Would I be impressed by their wealth? Moved to pity? Repulsed? I need that snapshot before plumbing the depths. Even when conversation comes to mind first, which happens during moments of relaxation, and I grab pen and paper to write it down, I have to write the setting and have appearance in mind before inputting the written conversation. so the upshot of Wednesday night was I went through The Bad Death to reacquaint myself with the Greeley girls' appearance and I looked through my photography books on Charleston's great houses to pick out the perfect setting for the scene. Found one, too. So tonight I'll start writing.

Last night in Juicy Writing, Sharon helped me organize a schedule for my writing/publishing tasks. She has a method of putting this to paper that is really visual and stress-reducing. Now I literally have it on paper, pinned to my bulletin board above my desk, that Saturday I will publish my three short stories to e-readers. Monday, I'll input Linda's edits to Bloodroom and I'll keep doing that till I'm done. I have been pinballing from one task to another, not finishing anything and getting wigged out. So this will help immensely.